|Selected with the #1 overall pick in the 2012 Draft by the (then) Hornets, Davis is the clear cornerstone for New Orleans, which has a lot of other weapons too|
Sunday night, at the world famous Madison Square Garden, the Knicks lost their ninth straight game as they fell to the upstart Pelicans. Not a very surprising occurrence, since the Knicks are having a truly horrendous start to their season and are tied with with Bucks for the worst record in the Eastern Conference (3-13).
However, the biggest news to come out of Sunday's game is that star forward for New Orleans, Kentucky product and former 1st-overall pick Anthony Davis, fractured his hand after playing just 10 minutes.
This meant that Davis could only watch as his team -- mainly Ryan Anderson and Tyreke Evans -- made big shot after big shot down the stretch, eventually holding on for a win after a few challenges from New York.
The victory improved coach Monty Williams' squad's record on the 2013-14 season to an even 8-8, but came with a much bigger cost: the health of its power forward, who was averaging a double-double before his injury. By no means does losing Davis for a yet-to-be-determined amount of time cost New Orleans its chance to compete for a playoff spot in the difficult Western Conference; it only complicates it.
As seen by the Pelicans' win over the Knicks, in which Davis played a minimal role, the team has a bunch of other players that can help stem the tide until he returns. Ryan Anderson, who scored 31 on 11-of-21 shooting against New York off the bench, clearly can be the No. 1 scoring option for New Orleans if need be, and probably will be moved into the starting lineup to boot. In order for this team to stay in the playoff race in Davis' absence, he'll have to keep shooting as well as he has so far.
The Team Formerly Known As The Hornets also has a glut of extremely talented backcourt options to fall back on if Anderson, Jason Smith and the rest of the frontcourt isn't getting the job done. Offseason acquisitions Tyreke Evans (from the Kings) and Jrue Holiday (76ers) are guards that complement incumbent starting shooting guard Eric Gordon extremely well.
Holiday is the pure point guard of the three. He takes the ball up the floor, looks for his teammates, and racks up the assists (nine versus New York) with regularity. He is the kind of player who makes the other guys on his team better, whether it is with great passing or floor leadership. Acquired from Philly for Nerlens Noel (sixth overall pick in June) and a 2014 1st-rounder, Holiday is certainly valued by the Pelicans and was picked up to make the most of New Orleans' wide talent base.
Gordon is the sharpshooter.
Like he did with Indiana in college and the Clippers, whom he was on before he came to New Orleans, Gordon has insane range and can break out for 20+ points often, even though he's struggled out of the gate this year. He can't be left open, because if he is, most likely he's going to make a defense pay badly.
Finally, Evans is the slashing guard. As attested to by the Knicks' porous defense, he can get to the hoop at will when he's set on it and has the strength to constantly put up big scoring numbers, whether he's starting or coming off the bench.
Those three guards, combined with Anderson, Smith, and other role players like shooter Anthony Morrow, point guard Brian Roberts, and big men Lou Amundson and Al-Farouq Aminu, make for a pretty deep and formidable team which will have to pick up the slack left behind by Davis' injury.
It is not an ideal situation for Monty Williams and the Pelicans, but the healthy guys they have give them a nice chance to keep winning, regardless of when he returns to the floor.
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